The Melges Europe Story
In May 2007, another chapter was written in the impressive 60+ years of Melges Performance Sailboats history. It was a milestone that would bring international class growth to the Melges 32 and be far more significant than just another record-breaking regatta turn out, or big-name, big-shot professional climbing aboard ultimately swearing allegiance to speed — it was the formation of Melges Europe.
For Federico Michetti, president of Melges Europe, it was a dream to bring the Melges 32 to Europe and work alongside Harry Melges. “When you have a dream and it is never shared with others, it is just a dream. But when that dream is realized together by a group of people with the same goals in mind, the possibilities are endless. It can become reality,” Michetti reflected. Before being named director, he was known to be a self-proclaimed ‘Melges speed addict’ with numerous sailing achievements of his own. At the launch, Melges commented that Federico was a natural fit for the position, “He possesses a great deal of sailing experience at a very high level and understands how to organize a winning team.”
Today, Michetti´s crew includes guidance from the international Melges Team and the assistance of General Manager Luisa Bambozzi. “Luisa is amazing. She is wonderful with our customers. She makes sure that each one is taken care of to the highest degree. She handles all the day-to-day duties. I am so lucky to have her on the team,” says Michetti. Another individual he is quick to thank is his Financial Advisor and friend, Giovanni Puntello. “It was Giovanni who said, ‘Federico, you must do this. It is the right thing to do.’ He was there always pushing me.”
Once established, the company's accomplishments seemed to snowball. Michetti already knew there was a great deal of interest in Europe before Claudio Recchi won the U.S. National Championship in Newport in mid-July. He was one of nine crewmembers on Let's Roll. “Every time I get on the Melges 32 I realize what a lucky boy I am. When I arrived in Newport and went out to sail, it reminded me that this is the best boat.” The Melges 32 turned heads as the press called for articles, editorials and interviews with Recchi, including Sailing World Magazine in the USA, and Fare Vela in Italy.
Immediately on Michetti´s return home, he traveled to Lake Garda for Torbole Race Week, where the Melges 32 was scheduled to make its Italian debut. This event promised maximum exposure to potentially more than 400 sailors from nine European countries. Over a hundred individuals lined up for a trial run. The weather dynamics on Lake Garda were ideal. It was just what Melges Europe ordered. “I was certain that the Melges 32 would generate great attention, but the positive feedback has exceeded my expectations,” Michetti says. “Claudio´s success at the Nationals strengthened the popularity and confidence in the Melges 32 — in Europe, and most especially in Italy.” From there, it was on to other major events, such as Centomiglia and Barcolana. Great success at these events put the Melges 32 on the pages of some of Italy´s most fashionable culture magazines.
As 2007 drew to a close, Melges Europe celebrated seven months and 20 boats sold. In addition, a formal partnership with Yacht Club Milano was formed to offer support for the Melges 32 fleet in Milan. It is at this elegant and modern yacht club that Michetti conducted the first European owners meeting in December. Thirteen owner representatives attended (60% of all European owners). Michetti expressed his appreciation for their support and confirmed the announcement of a 2008 Mediterranean Racing Circuit. Melges Europe also struck an agreement with Riccardo Simoneschi´s sports marketing agency, B.Plan, to handle communication, sponsorship and organization for the five-event series. “Our agreement between B.Plan and Melges Europe was immediate because our vision of the world of sailboat racing coincides perfectly. Without wasting a minute, we set to work with the objective of creating the 2008 Sailing Series for the Melges 32. Our goal is to ensure that all owners who believed in this boat now, are the first testimonial on which B.Plan will direct much effort and many ideas,” Simoneschi says.
Based in La Spezia, Italy, Melges Europe oversees the assembly of the Melges 32 as it enters Europe and will establish a dealer network for its distribution. “I really love the brand, therefore the leadership of this new company comes naturally to me. We carry Melges´ philosophy of building a superior, technologically advanced product and supporting it with incomparable customer service,” Michetti adds.
Furthering Melges' dedication to bringing more great racing to youth and junior sailors around the world, the Melges 14 was introduced in early 2015. The Melges 14 was named 2016 Boat of the Year — Best Dinghy by Sailing World Magazine.
In the spring of 2016, the Melges 40 was introduced — the very first canting keelboat ever offered by Melges. Unveiled in December of 2016, the super-star, top-of-the-line Melges 40 was soon thereafter named Keelboat of the Year by Yachts and Yachting Magazine. Competitive racing for the Melges 40 is scheduled to commence in March of 2017.
Melges Europe is a continuum of Melges Performance Sailboats´ goal to further support and encourage the sport of sailing on a global scale. In October 2006, Melges appointed Northshore Yachting, trading as Melges Asia Pacific, based in Sydney, Australia, to distribute the Melges 32 and Melges 24. Now with firm reach to three continents, more sailors can enjoy sailing the greatest sportboats on the planet.